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novelstudy April Raintree a30

Adapted from a unit plan template from Nipissing University in Ontario 081203
TITLE OF THIS UNIT: Novel Study: April Raintree and Halfbreed GRADE (S) LEVEL: ELA A30
LENGTH OF UNIT (# of hours or # of weeks): 3 weeks AUTHOR: Megan Schick
All components of the unit plan are essential. Although presented in a linear fashion, the components
may be completed in any order.
ELA A30 is based on Canadian literate with the focus on people and places within Canada. The
authors present a unique perspective of being metis Canadian, one that the students within this
class may or may not be able to relate to. These novels will provide an important context in which
we can have challenging conversations surrounding societal issues such as discrimination and
historical and present day perspectives/stereotypes of aboriginal people. Specifically Beatrice
Culleton’s novel brings up issues within the foster system that relate to current and local issues
within the Saskatatchwan foster system.
Grade twelve students are capable of dealing with the more major themes presented within these
novels. It is important to have conversations surrounding discrimination and stereotypes at this age
level so that students can begin to deconstruct their own biases before they enter the world of
work, post-secondary, or trades. Culleton’s novel deals with mature themes such as rape and it will
be important to premise the novel with a warning of the mature themes and a conversation about
the purpose of these themes.
This novel study will relate directly to the core theme of the ELA A30 curriculum: Canadian people
and places. It also provides opportunities for students to respond critically and personally, find
meaning, and appreciate the multiplicity of voices that make up Canadian literature. The CELs will
be addressed as students: think critically about the social issues (discrimination, foster care,
stereotypes, rape, injustice, etc.) presented in the texts; pose questions and seek clarification on
themes and content; recognize bias and fallacies in their own thinking and, respectfully, in the
rational of others; communicate and discuss for the purpose of learning as they confront
challenging social issues; begin to understand their self and society more completely; identify and
respect cultural perspectives that may be different from their own; use a variety of resources such
as news articles and videos to assist in their own learning; and plan, monitor and evaluate their
own learning as they relate their experiences, reflections, and response to the texts back to their
final autobiographical project.
This unit addresses the skills of speaking, listening, writing, reading, and representing. Knowledge
to be addressed in this unit: analyze and identify multiple perspectives; viewing concepts through
the lenses of perspectives other than our own; deconstructing ones personal biases; comparing
and contrasting a variety of Canadian identities; personally connecting or comparing ones own
experiences with that of the main characters; deconstructing societal injustices; and
comprehension of themes, events, and characters within the novel. Attitudes addressed
throughout this unit: historical and current stereotypes of Metis and Aboriginal Canadians; personal
biases towards ‘the other’; discriminatory attitudes; the construct of ‘whiteness’; and the construct
of ‘difference’.
Helps the students become aware of who they are as Canadians and how they relate to other
Canadians. Students will confront personal biases and begin to challenge the way they have been
taught to think and act towards others who are different from them. Students will be exposed to
challenging and sensitive topics that will require and emotional response. Personal reflection will
help the students relate, reflect and compare their life experiences with those of the characters in
the novel they choose to read. Students develop their academic skills in areas of reading, writing,
listening, speaking, representing, reflecting, and connecting personally with the content and
 The classroom is made of a variety of cultural identities and we will need to especially sensitive
towards the students with Aboriginal and Metis identities. I do not want these students to feel like
they need to speak for Aboriginal and Metis people as a whole. Their personal experiences, along
with every other student in the class, are valid and important to this unit. I want to create a
respectful environment were students feel safe to share their ideas, opinions, fears and critical
insights about the injustices within society.
Many of the student’s love debating and discussing. These will be incorporated into the learning
experiences of the students. There are many visual learners within the class as well and I will
include videos and images within the unit to help these students relate to learning experiences.
The characters and events within the novels are relatable to the age group of the students. The
experiences may or may not be relatable to personal experiences but the students will be able to
compare their life experiences to the characters experiences. Both novels seek to evoke strong
emotions from the reader and I feel that this element of each novel will help the students be
motivate do read and respond to the injustices and challenges that the characters face. Many of
the injustices within the novel are directly related to the current social issues within our city and
province. The students will be able to connect local issues with issues in the novel.
Common Essential Learning:
COM: Communication (Discussions and Group Presentations)
CCT: Critical and Creative Thinking (Question responses; written responses; critical theory work,
quotation collage; media scrapbook).
IL: Independent Learning (independent reading; reader responses).
PSVS: Personal and Social Values and Skills (reflections; presentations; group work; discussions).
Developing Thinking: thinking and learning contextually; thinking and learning creatively; thing and
learning critically.
Developing Identity and Interdependence: understanding, valuing and caring for oneself;
understanding, valuing and respecting human diversity and human rights and responsibilities;
understanding and valuing social, economic, and environmental interdependence and sustainability.
Developing Literacies: constructing knowledge related to various literacies; exploring and
interpreting the world through various literacies; expressing understanding and communicating
meaning using various literacies.
Developing Social Responsibilities: using moral reasoning process; engaging in communitarian
thinking and dialogue; contribute to wellbeing of self, others, and the natural world.
Infusion of FNIM content and perspectives: Two Metis authors have written the novels studied in this
unit. We will be discussing historical and current stereotypes of Metis and First Nations people.
This unit will provide learning opportunities in each of these areas:
Speaking: presentation skills, responses in small group and large group discussions; spoken word.
Listening: Lectures; discussions; videos; oral readings of poetry (spoken word).
Writing: Journals; reflections; mini-essays; responses to questions; compositions.
Reading: research, novels, poems, articles, essays.
English Language Arts 30 Curriculum Objectives (1999)
Listening 2-Practive Behaviors of effective listeners: Respond personally, critically, creatively, and
empathetically. Evaluate ideas critically. Distinguish between emotional appeal and reasoned
argument. Ask for clarification. Identify bias and fallacy in a speaker’s arguments.
Listening 3-Listen effectively in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes: Listen to understand
and learn, analyzes and evaluates, and evaluate logical development of an argument.
Writing 2-Practice the behaviors of effective writers: Recognize writing as a process of constructing
meaning for self and others. Revise and polish compositions. Share, present, or publish
compositions. Demonstrate the ability to trace a coherent thought pattern to a suitable conclusion.
Confer with peers and teachers.
Writing 3-Write fluently and confidently for a variety of purposes and audiences: reflect, clarify, and
explore ides; express understanding; describe, inform, and persuade; and express self.
Reading 2-Practice the behaviours of effective, strategic readers: make connections; find meaning;
make and confirm predictions; reflect and evaluate; record reader’s responses; identify the effect
created by the author’s voice tone, and style, and examine the methods by which they are achieved;
summarize information; consider the social, historical, and philosophical milieu in which a selection
was written.
Reading 3-Read a variety of texts for a variety of purposes: relate literary experiences to personal
experience and extend personal response; explore human experiences and values reflected in text;
understand the ideas, values, and cultures of peoples past and present; read to broaden their
knowledge of Canadian literary and cultural heritage; Recognize that Canadian literature is their
literature and that is expresses in diverse ways their cultural heritage; recognize and appreciate the
multiplicity of voices that make of Canadian literature.
Representing and Viewing 2-Recognize nonverbal aids and visual representations as tools for
communicating and learning: Presents information on a topic with class members in a planned and
focused group session using a variety of audio-visual strategies; communicate thoughts, ideas, and
feelings using two or more media sources; recognize viewing as an active process that requires
viewers to anticipate message and set a purpose for viewing, attend, seek and check understanding,
interpret and summarize, analyze and evaluate; Identify purposes, intended audiences, messages,
and multimedia presentations.
 What experiences (cognitive, affective, social, psychomotor) do the learners bring to the unit?
Some students are strong speakers and would benefit from a debate activity.
Some students have travelled around Canada.
 Students have already had significant amount of opportunity to read and reflect a variety of
literature. Students have discussed the topic of stereotypes in the context of Canadian identity.
 Some students have an interest in film and music.
Students are motivated and engaged during interactive tasks and group discussions.
Students will be given choice for the final project of the novel study.
Learners will collaborate with teacher to develop assessment criteria for final project.
 What individual needs do you anticipate will need to be addressed?
A.K. is very tentative and quiet. She does not like to be involved in-group discussions and she
requires the assignments and learning tasks to be broken down into small parts.
Z.A. is very quiet and does better in small group settings than in large group settings.
 Classroom; Outdoors if weather permits.
 Desks can be arranged in pods/groups. We
can use talking circles to discuss challenging
issues such as discrimination.
 Full class times for Independent Reading and
 Group Discussions and literature circle type
activities for full class hour.
 Block Thursdays: 2 hour classes
 Class time to complete research for final unit
What teaching areas do I need to reserve?
LRC, Lab top Carts, Computer Labs.
Comprehension questions early in the independent reading to check for understanding.
Key quote and collage - Students choose a quote from the novel that they found significant
and then create a collage or piece of artwork around the quotation (Geraldine Balzer).
Prepare a speaking presentation to teach peers about one section of to April Raintree or
Prepare a written response that compares and contrasts personal experiences to character
Media Scrapbook-Final unit project (Teacher’s guide to April Raintree, Portage and Main
 Provide rubrics, exams, projects
 Have you considered using a variety of the levels of complexity (e.g. Bloom, Krathwohl, Simpson,
Harrow) as you select your specific expectations?
Students will:
1. Read and comprehend the content, characters, and events of April Raintree or Halfbreed.
2. Prepare a speaking presentation in response to April Raintree or Halfbreed.
3. Further their understanding of the distinct culture of Metis people.
4. Critically reflect on personal bias through informal reader response writing.
5. Respond to, discuss and listen to perspectives and thoughts surrounding challenging social
issues and injustices through spoken word, essays, and group discussions.
6. Respond to and discuss current Canadian issues that relate to issues within April Raintree or
7. Compare and contrast personal experiences with the experiences of characters within April
Raintree or Halfbreed.
8. Connect with the text through personal experiences, thoughts and feelings and relate these to
their final autobiographical assignment.
9. Unit Culmination Assignment-Students will have a choice in the final project for the novel study
but each choice will demonstrate comprehensive knowledge and the students ability to apply
the information in the novel to current Canadian society and social issues (drug/alcohol abuse,
separation of families/physical and emotional abuse of family members, foster home situations,
child welfare system, rape/violence against women, suicide and First Nations history/land
claims/political struggles/environmental issues).
Students will be assessed based on co-constructed rubrics; teacher constructed rubrics; and teacher
feedback on written learning tasks that are handed in. Students will be assessed formatively through
written tasks, question responses, and a group presentation. The summative assessment of students
will occur through a final project that they choose to complete by the end of the unit.
Based on the content and learning experiences already completed in this class, these expectations
are realistic. Because of the nature of this class I want to provide the students with a significant
amount of choice and freedom so that they can create meaning for themselves in each learning task
and be able to relate it to their final autobiographical essay (being completed in place of final exam).
That said, if these students come up with new ways to meet these expectations, I would be flexible
CONTENT FOCUS (Initial brainstorming, mind mapping)
Thematic Novel Study:
April Raintree by Beatrice Culleton
HalfBreed by Maria Campbell
Theme 1: Pre-Reading
Discrimination and
Historical and Current
Racism: What is it? Where
do we see Racism in today’s
Stereotypes of Metis and
First Nations people
Theme 3: Text to SelfConnections
Deconstruction of personal
Comparing and contrasting
personal experiences with
those of the characters in the
Theme 2: Text to (Canadian)
Society Connections
Analysis of Social Issues
Drug/Alcohol Abuse
Separations of Families/Emotional
and Physical Abuse
Child welfare system
Foster-home issues
Rape/violence against women
First Nations history/land
struggles/environmental issues
Theme 4: Resiliency
Ability to bring back from and
successfully adapt to adversity.
Comprehension tasks for
first few chapters to check
for understanding of key
characters, events, and
Analytical and reflective
questions in response to
independent reading.
Small group discussions.
Oral speaking task in
response to the novel.
A written response
comparing and contrasting
personal experiences with
character’s experiences.
Quotation Collage
Media Scrapbook of Social
Activating Prior
Speaking, Listening, and
Identify current and
historical stereotypes of
metis and First Nations
Understand significant
Metis contributions to
Begin to discuss and
break down challenging
terms such as
discrimination, stereotype,
prejudice, and racism.
Active prior knowledge
and personal opinions
about challenging themes
we will encounter in the
Students will choose one
of two novels to work with
during this novel study.
Opinion Line/ Anticipation Guide
Small group discussion and large
group discussions comparing and
contrasting terms (discrimination,
stereotype, racism, prejudice).
Culminate discussion with task:
Graffiti Poster- in groups, create a
poster with the word
Discrimination written in the center
and circle. Use different colored
markers to jot down or draw ideas
about discrimination. Display poster
in the classroom to refer to later in
the unit.
Center Stations to introduce
students to themes in the novel and
how they link to current day issues
knowledge-Jigsaw activity.
Challenging Concepts Sheets:
outline a construct such as
discrimination, racism, stereotypes,
etc. Have students research the
definition, causes, and examples.
“My Very Good Dear
Friends” 1971 Chief
Dan George
History Text Books
Report of the Royal
Commission on
Aboriginal Peoples:
Newspaper Articles
Racism Video:
Graffiti poster;
answers to
comments on
Introducing the
Speaking, listening, and
Listen to an overview of both
novels and make a decision
about which novel to read
based on reading cover, back
and skimming the first few
Create a presentation group
and sign up for a topic and
presentation date.
Understand reading
strategies that will help
organize and make meaning
of the content being read.
Experiences during
Writing, Reading, Speaking,
representing and Listening.
In groups students will plan
and present a section of the
Mini-Lesson about autobiography.
Benefits and drawbacks to reading
Brainstorming, cooperative group
work, independent reading;
Students construct their own rational
for author’s purpose and meaning.
observation and
Group discussion
with directive
Research Project on the Author:
have students research the author’s
life story and make predictions
about the novel.
Derogatory Term Discussion: what
names have negative and racist
connotations and why? Why would
Campbell choose a racist slur about
her own people as the title of her
Current News Article
about burgers named
using a derogatory
Mini-lessons exploring themes: identity,
social issues, resiliency etc.
Khodi Dill Spoken
Word/Slam poetry
Student created and directed
presentations on selected part of the
novel. Discuss blooms taxonomy to
help guide student planning to include a
variety of cognitive levels.
Blooms Taxonomy
Have students choose a chapter
question prior to reading in class as a
method of focusing their reading.
Class Jigsaw-every group gets one
question to focus their readingcongregate in different groups to
facilitate discussion.
Independent Learning: days for reading
and reflection.
Jeanne Perreault: “In
search of Cheryl
Raintree, and Her
Jannetta’s Article:
“Anecdotal Humour in
Maria Campbell’s
Group Project
Rubic for teacher
and selfevaluation.
Exit slips
Interactive Instruction: Group
Writing Activities: Character Identity
Timeline; Personal Identity
Alien Exercise: relate to residential
Draw on other pieces that relate to
Gregory Scotfield “Too Many
Poems we have already covered.
Spoken Word Poetry.
Midpoint of Novel
Writing, Speaking, and
Midpoint Questions
Possible Activities for Midterm
Interactive Instruction
Writing, speaking, and
Students will be required to
create and submit a
cumulating project of their
choice the meets the
assignment expectations and
co-created criteria.
Small and large group discussions and
reflective questions.
Inter-novel Partner Comparisons.
Time to work on cumulative project.
Handouts with
Debate Topics
(Possibly Student
Final Project
Expectations and
Co-Created Criteria for
Cumulative Project
Social Issues
(Discuss throughout
novel study)
Reading, Writing, Speaking,
Listening, and
Students will begin to
deconstruct personal bias
through writing.
Students will make
connections between issues
within the novel and issues in
current Canadian society.
Mini lectures and interactive
discussions about current social issues
as the come up in the novels.
Newspaper Articles of
Current issues
Foster Care video:
“A Lost Heritage:
Canada’s Residential
“Stolen Sisters:
Discrimination and
Violence Against
Indigenous Women”
Provide a lot of choice in terms of assignments and tasks.
Communicate clearly and break tasks down into small parts for A.K.
Use small group work in order to help quiet students build on sharing their own voice.
Include significant student responsibility and discussion based activities.
 Materials and resources that reflect a variety of perspectives and represent a different culture.
 Allow significant student choice both with questions and learning tasks.
 Student led presentations will help students construct their own learning using methods that best apply to their learning
 Evaluation involves student choice has been created to help them with their final class project in January.
 Mature content in the novel may affect students in different ways. Be sensitive to students not wanting to participate in
certain conversations revolving around sensitive events in the novel.
TEACHER REFLECTION ( Evaluation of the unit)
Perceptual Overview
This unit is still in progress.
This unit placed significant responsibility on behalf of the students. It directly reflected the
Saskatchewan Ministry of Education curriculum goals and the College of Education program goals.
The students were able to develop their ability to listen, speak, read, write, analyze, and represent
information. I was able to include a variety of instructional strategies that spanned the spectrum from
teacher directed to student directed instruction.
Activities to be modified or deleted
I adapted many elements of the unit as we move through. In the first lesson we covered a few of the
stations but because of rich discussion in relation to discrimination, racism, prejudice, and
stereotypes we did not cover all of the stations. This group of students has strong discussion skills
and enjoys learning by interacting with one another. The student’s presentations were fairly well done
and only required minor teacher supplementation. I plan to use student led presentation in the future
because the instructional benefits were ten times what they would have been if I was using a direct
instructional approach. The students fed off of one another and gained as much knowledge from each
other as they would have from me, and they were motivated and engaged while learning.
Teaching/learning strategy changes
I would not make changes to the types of strategies that I used. I feel that the balance between direct,
student lead, and independent study was beneficial for student learning.
Materials needed/deleted
Effectiveness of people, places, and resources used
Materials Deleted:
 Some of the stations and articles.
I used a variety of resources that linked to current Canadian issues such as articles and spoken word
poetry and you tube videos. I could have drawn on even more resources but what I did use was
effective and relevant to the content of the novel.
The students demonstrated knowledge through their presentations as well as independent study
work. The answers handed in to be assessed, demonstrated in depth analysis and thoughtful
insight/reflections about the content within the novels.
I am excited to see what the students come up with for their final projects and further insights as to
the effectiveness of the unit will be gained after the assessment of those projects.
Works Consulted
Adamson, P. and Kopetsky, L.(2008) Teacher’s Guide By Pat Adamson and Lauree Kopetsky for In
search of April Raintree and April Raintree by Beatrice Mosionier. Portage & Main Press. Winnipeg,
FNESC. (2008) Unit 12: Metis Literature. English 12 First Peoples Teacher Resource Guide. Retrieved
from <http://www.fnesc.ca/resources/publications>. September 29, 2012.
Rattray, Golria. (2002) Aboriginal Voices Native Literature in English: Wellbeing and the Soul English
Language Arts a 30. Teaching materials from the Stewart Resource Center. S101.76.
Tregidgo, E. (2001) April Raintree: A multi-level novel study resource for instructors. National Literacy
Secretariat, Aurora College, Hay River, NT.